Decisions, decisions…

I’m thinking of upgrading to a bigger torch…

Now i love my trusty little Hothead but i think I’ve just about outgrown it.  I want to work cleaner, faster and BIGGER, and that means moving up to a surface mix-burner setup: torch, oxygen concentrator, larger propane tank.  Currently i use my trusty little HH with 1lb propane tanks – somewhat annoying but I’ve adapted quite well to the quirks associated with this choice. 

My beads are currently around 2″ and when i try to go much bigger it just takes forever to melt all that glass – it’s becoming frustrating.  I’ve had several recommendations to try a bulk tank (lots of bead makers do) but to be frank I’m not comfortable with the idea since this isn’t what this torch was originally designed for and brings about a whole set of other issues. 

Soooo, after extensive research, I’ve narrowed down my choices to these two torches.  They are both about equal as starter surface mix torches, each can work soda lime (soft) glass with either propane or natural gas and one 5LPM oxygen concentrator, and i have the option of moving to two concentrators for increased heat once i decide to work even bigger or try borosilicate (hard) glass.  Plus, they come in awesome colours (yippee!): 

Check out this awesome red Mega Minor from Nortel!  Yes, it’s a great soft glass torch.  Yes, it will work for the sculptural work i do, yes, it will grow with me… blah, blah, blah.  Have i mentioned this torch is a fantastically beautiful shiny, metallic red???

It’s so sexy – like a really hot shade of red lip gloss – makes me almost as excited as a great pair of shoes.  Almost.

This torch is made right here in Canada (Toronto) so that’s a huge selling point for me.  Nortel Manufacturing (not the telecommunications company that screwed up our retirement plans) is one of those typical Canadian success stories.  Their products are extremely well-known and respected all over the world and of course where did i hear about their torches? from outside of Canada first.

I also know a few bead makers who’ve bought the Mega and seem quite happy with what it can do.  I got the chance to briefly see it in action in Toronto at the Nortel factory (which is a drool-worthy place to visit if you love glass) but to be perfectly honest since I’ve never used a dual fuel torch before, i didn’t even know what the heck to do with it – i balled the tip of a rod in the flame so i do know it melts way faster than my HH… (duh?)

Now, i thought i had made my choice and then GTT came out with this baby:  a sparkly purple Cricketyes, it’s sparkly AND purple – a brand new torch that has tested comparably to the Mega and costs about the same.

Call me shallow, but when all things are technically equal I’ll generally lean toward aesthetics over utility.  My motto has always been “Have nothing in the house that is neither useful nor beautiful”.  Or studio.  And this sparkly purple torch sure is pretty. 

Seems both manufacturers have realized that their target market for the smaller torches suitable for glass bead making is mostly women.  So instead of the usual massive, ugly chunks of grey metal or loosely resembling a certain male body part, both torches are instead cute, sleek and downright sexy.  Have i mentioned my absolute favourite colour in the whole world is purple??  and especially sparkly purple? 

I need to choose my new setup soon, sooo: purple? or red? sweet, juicy, sparkly purple? or deep, luxurious, luscious red? Technically, they’re both on par soooo… which torch should i choose?

Decisions, decisions, decisions…

Glass Torch Technologies (GTT):

Nortel Manufacturing:

Hothead Source: